Top Five Favorite YA Ghost Books That Remind Me of Halloween

Photo features a Jack-o-lantern pumpkin sitting on top of a stack of books that are featured in this article - My Top Five Favorite YA Ghost Books That Remind Me of - by Peri McKinnis - Peri Reads -

I have something I need to admit. As a child I obviously liked to read but there was a genre that I couldn’t put down, and those were ghost/ horror genre books. R.L. Stine has to be mostly to blame for that as his books were easily accessible at the school library and every Halloween Cartoon Network aired reruns of beloved Goosebumps episodes. So it was no surprise that whenever the Scholastic Book fair rolled around every year I had to pick up the spooky ones. They were always the most enticing.

This book gives off the vibes of mid October where everything is cloudy and wet but in a good way. Neil Gaiman has a way with words when it comes to creating other worlds and this is no exception. The story centers around the memories of our protagonist as he comes back to his hometown of Sussex as a forty year old man but his childhood wonder still lives on. There’s whimsical flair and charming moments that are magically strung together with darkness and fear. While this one isn’t filled with many horror inducing scenes I needed to add it on the list as it was certainly the gateway for all my scary finds as an adult.

This was another of those times where I judged a book by its cover and I’m so glad I did. There’s something about vintage photos that don’t have a lot of context that gives you an eerie feeling and Riggs used that to his advantage. We follow Jacob, an awkward 16 year old boy who was best friends with his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor who spoke stories of these peculiar children who took him in during a dark time. Stories that could be easily played off as fairy tales, until Jacob sees something that he can’t explain. His only option to get peace is visiting the island his grandfather spoke so highly about to see if those peculiar children he talked about were real. But be careful what you wish for, Jacob. Another book that has no jump scares but contains scenes of magic, strangeness, and loads of fun adventures.

Now this is where things get a little scary. Mary Downing Hahn was definitely a big contributor for my love of literary horror so it was no surprise when I saw this book sitting at the book fair I knew I had to get my hands on it. Molly and Michael hate their new step-sister, Heather, as she constantly tries to get them in trouble and wants to have her way. When their parents decided to move out to an old church with a graveyard in their backyard, it was no surprise to anyone that Heather started talking to an imaginary friend. That she called Helen. Who died in a mysterious fire just like her mother. And is threatening to kill her step siblings with. The perfect classic ghost story that meets all the markers and while the intended audience are young readers, I still remember certain parts of the book that made my skin crawl.

If this explains who I was as a kid and as a person in general, I made my mom buy me these books through a book catalog in fourth grade. I also brought them with me to my first time at a sleep away camp because they suggested to bring books and I thought, “these would be perfect.” And I was right because all the girls in my cabin were begging me every siesta to borrow them. These books have been around since the 80’s and their uncanny art style just makes the stories even more fear inducing. Some stories range from ghosts to zombies to witches and everything in between. Some are stories that have been passed down and modified from generation to generation. There are some that come with parts to act out to really scare your friends when they aren’t expecting it. All around the best scary book I have kept up with my whole childhood and now I just want to curl up in the dark to scare myself with it.

Again another classic from Mary Downing Hahn I was obsessed with her books as a young ghost reader. This one contains the classic elements of a horror piece mixed with the wonder of childlike imagination. We follow through the eyes of Diana, a twelve year old girl who lives out in the woods with her younger brother Georgie behind the rotten Old Willis Place. The pair must follow a strict set of rules given to them by old Miss Willis herself which are as follows: don’t touch her things, don’t go in the house, and never be seen by anyone. All pretty standard and easy to follow until a new caretaker moves in and brings his daughter, Lissa, with them. Diana now can’t contain her need for not only friendship but the lingering feeling that this may be their only chance to be free. This book contains a plot twist that my young self couldn’t handle and had me suggest this book to anyone that would listen. And here I am doing it again, even if you aren’t a little kid you’ve got to check it out.


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Hey! I’m Peri McKinnis

Peri McKinnis of Peri Reads

I’m a creative, I’m a dreamer, and I’m an Aries. I’ll read any book with enough convincing, I enjoy weird movies, and I’m a caffeine fiend. From the day that I brought my first book catalog home from school I knew that books were going to have a special place in my heart. Now I want to spread that love here, to talk about the books that made us cry, fall in love, and scorn because we couldn’t finish them.